Airbnb Just Expanded Its App Significantly, Adding Local Experiences and Restaurant Reservations

Becoming a 'holistic travel' service

Headshot of Kristina Monllos

Airbnb announced today that it is expanding its scope significantly, moving from a home-sharing business to a "holistic travel" company, said CEO Brian Chesky at the Airbnb Open event in Los Angeles.

It rolled out a new feature called Trips as part of an app update designed to provide travelers with a one-stop shop. The feature focuses on three areas—experiences, places and homes—and the company plans to add flights and services in the future. 

Airbnb hosts can now offer unique experiences, allowing users to try different activities while traveling, like taking a lesson from a samurai sword artist, learning to make a dress or getting a makeover.

"'Experiences' are our handcrafted experiences that allow you to immerse in the local community," Chesky said. "These are offered by local hosts, and we have two types: We have immersions, which are multi-day experiences, and we have single-day experiences, which are just a few hours." 

He added that Airbnb "designed this to be both magical and easy," and the goal is to connect travelers with locals they wouldn't normally meet. The result, he hopes, will be a truly immersive experience.

The new feature kicks off today with 500 possible experiences for travelers to choose from in 12 cities around the world, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Detroit, Havana, London, Paris, Florence, Nairobi, Cape Town, Tokyo and Seoul. Hosts can now request to offer experiences, like learning about star gazing, to Airbnb's listings in these cities and future cities. 

To get users interested in these activities, the company took inspiration from the movies, explained Chesky. Each experience has its own poster and trailer. (See below for an example.) 

Another portion of the Trips feature, places, taps into recommendations from Airbnb hosts to give users an alternative to tourist traps, offering what the company pitches is an authentic experience of a city where they can see what it is like to "live there." 

Places allows travelers to use hosts' guidebooks (which the company launched earlier this year), participate in local meet ups and go on audio walks. Users will be able to take those audio tours in Los Angeles first; San Francisco, Paris, London, Tokyo and Seoul will be added in spring 2017.

The company has also added another function to its app, the Trip Itinerary, which gives users the "ability to easily book and add experiences or things to do."  The Trip Itinerary will evolve its capabilities "based on machine learning to dynamically suggest personalized and contextual (i.e. based on location) recommendations during a trip," according to the company's release. "Airbnb's vision is to ultimately cater for every aspect of a trip, making it both easy and magical from start to finish." 

"Even from when we started we've really always been about a trip," said Chesky. "And when we're at our best, this is who we are."  

The company has also partnered with Resy, a reservations company, to add restaurant reservations to the app. And it partnered with Make a Wish foundation to grant wishes through its experience function daily.

Airbnb's in-house team, along with creative shop TBWA\Chiat\Day, created a new spot (see below) pitching experiences. 


Agency: TBWA\Chiat\Day

Creative: Stephen Butler, Brent Anderson, Kyla Elliott, Ben Beazley, Liz Cartwright, Stephen Lum

Brand Leadership: James Vincent, Kelly Lee, Andrie Wheeler, Matt Theisen, Kelli McDonald

Planning: Neil Barrie, Jennifer Costello, Brooke Lonegan, Farid Mozafari

Production: Brian O'Rourke, Anh-Thu Le, Max Belin, Scott Henry, Adrian Womack

Business Affairs Linda Daubson, Maryam Ohebsion

Traffic: Jarim Lynn

Social Team

Creative: Robbie Reynolds, Sasha Verma, Christian Prieto

Brand Leadership: Jenn Wong, Anthony Perrin

Planning: Kyle Luhr, Emilie Arrive, Laura Mayer

Media Agency: Starcom

Cristina Torres, Business Lead

Erin Houg, SVP

Jillian Mansheim, Global Associate Director

Gerard Martin, Experience Design Director

Christi Pizarek, Global Associate Director

Batchimeg Ganbaatar, Supervisor

Andy Develvis, Supervisor

Darren Allison, Supervisor

Hannah Nowicki, Associate

Paid Social Media Agency: Amobee

Chad Bronstein, SVP Global Partnerships, Amobee

Amanda Chin, Director of Social, Amobee

Stefan Sideris, Director of Global Social Media Operations, Amobee

Kate Barry, VP Client Services, Amobee EMEA

Stephanie Conlin, Sales and Client Services Director, Amobee SEA

Client: Airbnb 

Chief Marketing Officer: Jonathan Mildenhall

Global Brand Marketing Director: Alexandra Dimiziani

Senior Global Marketing Director: Marion Link

Marketing Specialist: Sophia Horowitz

Managing Director, The Art Department: James Goode

Global Head of Production: Rachel Holbrook

Global Production Lead: Holly Butler

Global Photography Lead: Bridget Harris

Creative Producer, Photography: Rebecca Lanthorne

Creative Director: Tony Hogqvist

Creative Lead: Dillon Petrillo

Assistant Creative Producer: Freddie Whitman

Global Brand Strategy Lead: Nancy King

Global Brand Strategy: Cameron Ferrin

Global Head of Social: Eric Toda

Global Social Media Manager: Jasmine Atherton

Social Media Analyst: Chase Munson

Connections and Media Activations Lead: Rachael Haley

Connections and Media Activations Manager: Jordan Ng

Connections and Media Activations Manager: Frank Cortese

Production: Caviar

Director: Arnaud Uttenhove

Executive Producer: Michael Sagol

Executive Producer: Kim Dellara

Head of Production: Kelly Bowen

Line Producer: Stephan Mohammed

Prod Supervisor: Laura Peszynski

Dir. Of Photography:  Daniel Bouquet

1st AD : Kennedy Taylor

Photographer: Farhad Samari

Producer: Brienna Price

Editorial: Exile / The Art Department

Editor – The Art Department – Dillon Petrillo

Editors: Will Butler :60 & Rex Lowry :10s and :15s

Assistant Editors: Brandon Lawrence

Producers: Jennifer Lock – HOP, Michael Miller – Producer

EP: Carol Lynn Weaver

Assistant Editor – The Art Department – Freddie Whitman

Telecine/Film Transfer: MPC

Color EP: Meghan Lang

Color Producer Rebecca Boorsma

Colorist: Mark Gethin

VFX: Mark Holden

VFX: Ben Davidson

VFX Producer: Abisayo Adejare

Music Company: Beta Petrol

Music Supervision: Bryan Ray Turcotte

EP: Dayna Turcotte

Audio Mix: LIME Studios

EP – Susie Boyajan

Mixer – Mark Meyuhas

Assistant Mixer – Stephen Fredericks

Assistant Mixer – Peter Lapinski

On-line Editorial: SAINT/MP

Executive Producer – Helen Park

Producer – Kristina Thoegersen

Creative Director – Rob Trent

Flame Artist – Miles Essmiller

Flame Artist – Dave Stern

@KristinaMonllos Kristina Monllos is a senior editor for Adweek.